The minutes of Tuesday's meeting make it clear that the funds are subject to further checks for value-for-money, and that it isn't yet known whether the money will be spent with BT or with another provider:
John Moore said that BT provision was cost effective in delivering from point to
point, but that other technologies could flood wide areas and that could provide greater
flexibility in improving services for the remaining 10%.
In response John Moore said ... that he could not provide an answer which everyone would find suitable. He
believed the main question was how far efforts to deliver services to the remaining 10% of
the population should continue with BT, and how far improvements could also be obtained
for all residents through other providers.
When looking for the result of Tuesday's decision, I found the status report from SFNY that went to the councillors, so that they had the background information for making this decision.
There are some interesting snippets of information within that report, both about the expansion and about the status of the ongoing project:
- SFNY use a figure of 25Mbps to mean superfast, and as a threshold for deciding the intervention area.
- BT contract is for completion by October 2014
- Rollout is on schedule and on budget. Will have now covered 64,000 properties, and 89,000 by end of December
- The new funds come from unspent contingency within BDUK "as other counties have failed to deliver according to anticipated timescales" and appears to be part of the 2015 pot rather than the 2017 pot
- Both the existing contract with BDUK and the state-aid approval allow for this funding to be added into the existing contract, subject to further "value-for-money" tests in comparison with all other BDUK-funded contracts)
- The subsidy on the existing contract is £176 per premise, and the working assumption is that this will rise to £300 for the new batch of properties, which will be correspondingly more rural and harder to reach.
- There is an update to the number of properties involved in the project, which explains the numbers that were confusing in the previous press stories. These make it clear that there is still about 2.5% of the county that are to be covered in the commercial rollout, and that the final total could be 95% with 25Mbps+
- The new funding is expected to make the project run until October 2015